Saturday, March 12, 2011

PianoVoce: Kevin Sharkey, Richard Duning, Nancy Correll, Annette Gurnee Hull and Virginia Ryder. Not pictured: Kamala Stroup Rocher.

Music of Sorrow, Fear, Transcendence and Transformation with PianoVoce

“What better way to explore the nature of death than through its expression in music?” asks North Coast pianist Nancy Correll. Her answer is this carefully selected program presented by the North Coast ensemble known as PianoVoce on March 12 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Pianists Correll and Annette Gurnee Hull created PianoVoce in 2001. They were the “piano” and vocalist Sue Mullen was the original “voce” or voice. “She passed away in September 2010, but we still hear her voice,” said Correll. This concert is dedicated to her memory.

Over the years the group added vocalist Kevin Sharkey, HSU woodwind professor Virginia Ryder, and text reader Richard Duning. This year PianoVoce introduces soprano Kamala Stroup Calderoni.

Noting that death is the universal human experience and therefore a universal subject of the arts, Correll described the rationale for this evening’s program. “From our culture’s music for piano, voice and oboe, we’ve chosen pieces that explore various aspects of death,” she said. “Sorrow, fear, transcendence and transformation are some of the feelings expressed in these piano duets, song and oboe music.”

A religious response to death is reflected in selections from Bach’s Cantata #127. The Sonata for Piano and Oboe by modern French composer Francis Poulenc is an elegy for his friend and fellow composer, Sergei Prokofiev.

“There are also lighter ways to consider death,” Correll said. “The ‘danse macabre’ was once a terror-inspiring art form, but in the hands of Saint-Saens, it becomes a semi-comic ragged dance of clattering bones and blowing shrouds.”

Other selections are from Franz Schubert, Edvard Grieg, Roger Quilter, Aaron Copland, Gian Carlo Menotti, Hugo Wolf and Cody Wright. The music is often paired with poetry by Henrik Ibsen, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Ogden Nash and other authors.

“All of these images, and more, can be found in art where the artist is exploring this basic condition of our lives,” Correll concludes. “There are no answers, only the thoughts and feelings of those who have struggled with this reality... We believe that some of our tradition’s most beautiful music and poetry comes from the struggle to come to terms with death, in all its forms.”

PianoVoce performs on Saturday March 12 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $8/$3 students and seniors from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Department of Music.

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, North Coast Journal

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